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ASU men's basketball coach Bobby Hurley speaks on first month at ASU

Hurley discussed recruiting, scheduling, his personal life and more

Bobby Hurley press conference
Michael Crow and Ray Anderson applaud as they welcome Bobby Hurley as ASU's new men's basketball coach on April 10, 2015.

New ASU men's basketball coach Bobby Hurley works quickly, just like in his playing days.

In just over a month, Hurley has brought in three recruits to the class of 2015 and announced a non-conference schedule headlined by an opponent in Kentucky who went 38-1 last season.

He hasn't even fully moved to Tempe yet, he said.

With so much going on before his team has even set foot on a basketball court for a game, Hurley spoke to the media Thursday to discuss his first month at his new job.

The move to Tempe

Hurley said his move has been a whirlwind, with plenty of activity going on between moving, the recruiting trail and some of Hurley's charity work.

"It's been an exciting month, and a lot's happened," Hurley said. "My body is still trying to get used to Pacific time. Early mornings, and early to bed. I think we've got some things accomplished here."

The move, while underway, is not complete for Hurley.

"I just found a place to live, so that's positive," Hurley said. "There's a lot of things that are going to contribute to things calming down and getting back to normal."

Hurley said his family has already made the move to Tempe.

"They love it," he said. "They're enjoying the weather. We're a very outdoor-oriented family, very active, so it's going to help in that regard."

His 2015 signees

Hurley currently has four signees for the class of 2015, bringing in forwards Obinna Oleka and Maurice O'Field along with Buffalo transfer Shannon Evans to join Andre Spight, a holdover from the Herb Sendek era.

"Obi Oleka, Maurice O'Field, Shannon Evans are all going to be great contributors to the program," Hurley said. "Andre Spight is on campus. He's taking classes. I haven't been on the floor with him yet, but I'm really excited to work with him."

Hurley's acquisitions have all come from the East Coast, which is something that he said will change.

"Obi (Oleka) is from the D.C. area, Maurice O'Field's from Cleveland and Shannon Evans is from northern Virginia so those are three of our first guys who we've brought in," he said. "That's going to change and I need to build relationships with guys on the West Coast and our coaching staff need to aggressively pursue players in this area, which we will."

His returning players

With the reported transfer of guard Roosevelt Scott joining the departures of Connor MacDougall, Sai Tummala and Chance Murray, ASU is expected to have just nine scholarship players on their roster barring any late additions in recruiting.

Hurley said he was confident in his returning core, saying he would have no issue going into next season with the current roster if he is unable to make any more recruiting additions.

"I have no issues with maybe not carrying the full load if that's the circumstances that are presented," Hurley said.

Hurley said he likes the fit of the current roster to his scheme, which gave him the confidence to ramp up the nonconference scheduling.

Sophomore forward Savon Goodman, junior center Eric Jacobsen, junior guard Gerry Blakes and freshman point guard Tra Holder stood out in particular to Hurley.

"I like Savon Goodman's versatility and his motor, his athleticism on the front court," Hurley said. "I like Eric Jacobsen. I haven't really had a guy like him that's his frame and a big body that can rebound, play defense and score a little bit inside. 

"Gerry Blakes is a guy that could continue to build on a solid season last year, and Tra Holder is young guy that I think has a chance to keep developing and getting better."

The trust between the players to their new coach is something that should develop over the summer, Hurley said.

"When we bring the whole group together in July and get those six weeks together, it's going to accelerate that process more," he said.

ASU's nonconference schedule

ASU's nonconference schedule, which was announced Thursday, is headlined by matchups against Kentucky, St. John's, UNLV, Texas A&M and Creighton as well as potential matchups against either Marquette, NC State or LSU in the Legend's Classic in Brooklyn.

Hurley said that after getting a better feel for his team in recent weeks, he was ready to be more aggressive in his nonconference slate.

"After working with them for a couple of weeks, I've been getting a better feel for them," Hurley said. "It gave me the confidence to try and aggressively schedule some games that I think are going to lift the profile of our out-of-conference and I believe it pays dividends when the NCAA Tournament committee is in that room examining your resume."

Hurley said the biggest goal in scheduling is to make the team's nonconference more appealing to the NCAA Tournament selection committee and to gain added exposure for the program.

"If you are willing to play and schedule games like the Kentucky game on Dec. 12, and St. John's on a neutral site and the Legend's Classic in Brooklyn," Hurley said. "All those events are important for us in terms of getting the exposure we want for the program and also challenging our players to play those quality teams."

Hurley said that his nonconference experiences last season at Buffalo gave him the confidence to go after Kentucky in 2015-16.

"Before we pulled the trigger on at Kentucky and St. John's, I felt that I wanted to get more familiar, more comfortable with the guys to think that we could contend in those kind of games," Hurley said. "I thought it paid dividends this past season for (Buffalo) to go to Rupp Arena and play that type of game and play at Wisconsin. Those games helped us in conference play because they really challenged ourselves and we played a tough schedule."

Hurley's Buffalo team led Kentucky at halftime at Rupp Arena before eventually falling to the then-undefeated Wildcats.

ASU's matchup against Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Dec. 12 will be aired on CBS, Hurley said.

The recruiting trail

Hurley said ASU still has some flexibility to work with for its 2015-16 roster, allowing him to be aggressive on the trail for the class of 2015.

"We still have some flexibility on our roster," Hurley said. "It's got to be the right fit and it's got to make sense for us. They have to be the type of players that are going to compete and contend in the Pac-12."

Hurley has been active recruiting in Arizona, reportedly offering 2017 point guards Alex Barcello of Corona Del Sol and Markus Howard, formerly of Perry High School.

"There's great talent on the West Coast, no doubt," Hurley said. "The state of Arizona is producing players. There's guys out there that we're aware of. California is rich in talent. Texas is really close, and that's another state that has players and athletes that we'll be looking at."

When out on the road, Hurley said that the University nearly sells itself.

"There's so much to sell," Hurley said. "I've always tried to sell my history in basketball, what I've accomplished and my track record for basketball. Now I have a great school with great weather, great city and a lot of other things that I can talk to recruits about."

Hurley said the recent success of former Sun Devil and current Houston Rockets guard James Harden, who is currently in the Western Conference Finals and finished second in the NBA MVP voting, has helped out on the recruiting trail.

"James Harden is really relevant now, and what he's doing," Hurley said. "He's a guy that we'll mention from time to time."

The Pac-12 conference

Hurley said the Pac-12 conference provides a unique opportunity for athletes to move on to the next level with is open, free-flowing style of play.

"We try to sell style of play in leagues," Hurley said. "I think the Pac-12 in general is an attractive league to play in because it's not a grind-it-out type of league that is so physical and low-scoring. It's got a history and a track record to be a more free-flowing league, and that caters to how I want to play here."

His coaching style

Hurley described himself as laid-back off the court, but said his players should expect a much more intense person on the court.

"Gerry (Blakes) said the other day, 'Well, you're really laid-back, you're kind of chill, right?' and that's my temperament, my personality away from the court," he said. "When it's time to work, it's kind of the flipped the switch. I'm a different guy. They'll get a sense of that in July."

Coach K

Hurley said he and his former Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski, have been in contact since Hurley's hiring. Krzyzewski won his fifth national championship this past season, something he accomplished with Hurley twice.

"He's excited for me and with this opportunity," Hurley said. "It was great seeing him and it kind of reinforces some of the things that I believe in."

Kodi Justice

Freshman point guard Kodi Justice, who was ruled out for the rest of the 2014-15 season on Jan. 26, is still rehabilitating from a fracture in his foot.

Hurley said he is working on cardio and shooting work, but that there is no rush to bring Justice back. 

"We're going to gradually bring him back so that he's ready to go in July," Hurley said.


Hurley said he expects ASU to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid, specially given its nonconference schedule.

"These guys got a taste of the postseason last year in the NIT, and based on what we have coming back and what we're adding to the equation to make a push to be a NCAA Tournament team," Hurley said. "That's the expectation."

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